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Monroe County Sheriff takes action to try and stem rising COVID-19 cases at the jail

David Andreatta / CITY Newspaper
The Monroe County Jail currently charges more for inmates to make a phone call than almost anywhere in the state.

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter says his office will take new steps to try and stem the COVID-19 virus outbreak at the county jail which has affected dozens of inmates.

As of Tuesday, there were 70 inmates testing positive for the coronavirus at the county jail and 26 staff members.

The inmate COVID numbers are more than double than what they were last Friday. Baxter says as part of new protocols, the jail will test the entire inmate population, and they will also split up inmates into different housing units based on their COVID-19 status.

He says staff at the jail will also be tested after they come back to work for a new week.

“That means on their two days off when they come back to work they will be tested as they come into the Monroe County jail. That’s in addition to the normal protocols we do, with asking questions and taking temperature checks. That will be a rapid test and hopefully give us information as fast as possible should a staff member bring the COVID virus into the jail,” Baxter says.

Baxter says of the inmates who have tested positive, some are asymptomatic, others have COVID-19 systems, and two of them have been hospitalized. 

Baxter says that the county is working with the health care provider it contracts with at the jail to step up the health checks on inmates. He also says to help with overall inmate morale, the jail will now provide two free 15-minute phone calls and a free 30-minute video call each week.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.